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The Croc From Hell Returns

by Tony Nash

(A [Belated] 45th Anniversary Celebration of Jaws Part 2)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

Killer Crocodile 2 (1990) - IMDb

Killer Crocodile 2 (1990) R ***

Richard Anthony Crenna: Kevin Jones, Activist (as Anthony Crenna)

Debra Karr: Lisa Post, Reporter

Ennio Girolami: Joe, the Croc Hunter (as Thomas Moore)

Terry Baer: Paul, Miami Chronicle Publisher

Hector Alvarez: Mr. Baxter, Land Developer

Written by: Fabrizio De Angelis (as Larry Ludman), Giannetto De Rossi, & Dardano Sacchetti (as David Parker Jr.)

Directed by: Giannetto De Rossi

Synopsis: Eco Activist Kevin and Croc Hunter Joe reunite to find Kevin’s reporter friend Lisa who has discovered a land developer has lied about promising to fully decontaminate an area of the Caribbean riddled with illegally dumped toxic waste, instead planning a huge resort on top of it. Kevin soon finds another mutated croc is out killing tourists and locals, and when Joe ends up a victim of the beast, he and Lisa must save the populace and then expose the truth.

Killer Crocodile 2 Blu-ray Review with HD Screenshots

While a sequel to the original, Killer Crocodile 2 was in fact filmed simultaneously with its predecessor. Fabrizio De Angelis was behind the helm of both films, but decided to give the directorial credit of the sequel to special effects man and burgeoning filmmaker Giannetto De Rossi. Like the original Killer Crocodile being a pseudo remake of Jaws, KC2 was a pseudo remake of Jaws 2 in that both dealt with the uneasiness of major resorts being built in areas that might still be infested with dangers, only the danger this time is a mutated crocodile and loads of hazardous toxic waste instead of crazed man eating shark. Giannetto De Rossi himself stated in an interview that while much fun was had making both films, the overall product could be less than stellar at times, but he none the less enjoyed the challenge of trying to make a realistic looking giant crocodile with the little budget they had to work with.

Film Review - Killer Crocodile 2 (1990) - Tuesday Night Cigar Club


American actor Richard Anthony Crenna (credited as Anthony Crenna) and Ennio Girolami (credited as Thomas Moore) reprise their respective roles of activist Kevin and hunter Joe in the film. Kevin is still out trying to save the world, but hard learned truths have made him wiser in that some things are just too dangerous to let roam around free as they cause as much, if not more, destruction than the most harmful materials around. Kevin still believes in saving the world, but has learned new ways that allow him to maintain his ideals, and stop harmful elements that need stopping. Croc Hunter Joe has also learned some lessons from his encounter with the original croc. He too is wiser, and has learned he himself has limits as his fight with the croc cost him the use of his one arm. Kevin’s activism influenced him as his survival skills influenced Kevin in that he’s a little more careful of what he uses to make his food, and understands both ends of the arguments over environmental safety. Sadly, his loss of his edge costs him his life when he’s unable to predict where the croc is.

Killer Crocodile 2 (1990) / AvaxHome

Debra Karr, a very briefly lived actress in the late 80’s, early 90’s, is quite the surprise as the spitfire reporter Lisa. A very independent woman via the 2nd wave Feminist Movement, Lisa knows how to take care of herself, and is able to survive the dangers of the croc and jungles where others have fallen victim. Certain the land developer Baxter is covering up lost toxic waste, Lisa stays on the trail even when Baxter pays off goons to threaten her.

Cool Ass Cinema: Killer Crocodile 2 (1990)

The beauty of the Caribbean islands is once again on display in the film, and even a few shots of Miami Florida come into display. Mixing both the classical beautiful scenery and the more exotic rural areas, De Rossi and his crew make the best use of locations to help hide the meager budget at hand.

Killer Crocodile 2 Blu-ray Review with HD Screenshots

Not as interesting as the original, but still offers an intriguing story-line involving lies, deceit, and political based cover-ups, KC2 is still a very interesting ride to experience and enjoy.

(As I said earlier, the sequel can’t compare to the original, and while at times the story seems a little up in the air of where it wants to go, the acting of Crenna, Girolami, and Karr make up for the loose ends that couldn’t be fixed during the shoot or in the editing room. De Rossi himself claims the film wasn’t the preferred way to start his career as a director, but did enjoy the challenges of the limitations at hand, and the confidence given him by writer-producer-director Fabrizio De Angelis. Two Blu Rays exist of the film, one from the US company Severin Films, and the other from the UK’s 88 Films. The Severin Blu Ray is a limited run extra, while 88 Films has the full on rights to distribute it as a single feature. Like with the Original, 88 Films wins out on the visual and audio transfer, and on the price as well. It can be bought either on the Killer Crocodile Box Set, or as a single edition that will be coming out late August, early September.)

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Killer Crocodile / Killer Crocodile 2 Collection – The Italian Collection 50 / 51

Killer Crocodile [2-Disc Blu-ray Feat. Exclusive Slipcover]


Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

The Monster From Jaws Survived – To Become a Giant Croc in Italy

by Tony Nash

(A [Belated] 45th Anniversary Celebration of Jaws Part 1)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the original Italian language version)

Killer Crocodile (1989) - IMDb

Killer Crocodile (1989) R *** ½

Richard Anthony Crenna: Kevin, Ecologist Team Leader (as Anthony Crenna)

Sherrie Rose: Pamela, Ecologist Team Member

Pietro Genuardi: Mark, Ecologist Team Photographer (as Julian Hampton)

Ennio Girolami: Joe, the Croc Hunter (as Thomas Moore)

Van Johnson: The City Judge

Ann Douglas: Jennifer, Ecologist Team Biologist

Bill Wohrman: Mr. Foley, Businessman (as Wohrman Williams)

John Harper: Bob, Ecologist Team Member

Franklin Dominguez: The City Pathologist

Written by: Fabrizio De Angelis (as Larry Ludman) & Dardano Sacchetti (as David Parker Jr.)

Directed by: Fabrizio De Angelis (as Larry Ludman)


Synopsis: A team of environmentalists somewhere in the Caribbean jungles discover crooked businessmen have been dumping toxic waste material into a local river, threatening the ecosystem and the livelihoods of the local communities. When locals encounter a crocodile that has mutated from the spill the environmentalists put aside their ideals to team with the local croc hunter to stop it from harming anymore people.

Top 10 Killer Crocodile Flicks! | Arrow in the Head

From the mid-1970’s to 1990, the Italian film industry had a period of killer animal films inspired from the 1975 blockbuster film Jaws. Along with sharks, the Italians also told stories of killer fish, bugs, amphibians, and crocodiles. Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive had come out around the same time as Jaws and equally ushered in an interest in Thrillers about the elusive creatures, and the Italians found crocs to be the most doable for their special effects teams. The genre fizzled about 1989, but producer Fabrizio De Angelis decided to send the craze out with a bang in the form of Killer Crocodile. Environmental Activism had taken hold around the world as illegal dumping of hazardous and dangerous materials were being uncovered, and De Angelis, along with regular Lucio Fulci collaborator Dardano Sacchetti, crafted a screenplay with these real-world happenings as the backdrop for the tale. By having the main group of ecologists come into conflict with preserving their ideals and protecting the environment in all its forms vs the loss of human life that will definitely happen if action isn’t taken makes for very interesting drama.

Killer Crocodile (Fabrizio De Angelis, 1989) – Offscreen

Composer Riz Ortolani does the closest thing to a direct rip-off of John Williams’ classic theme of the shark from Jaws with his primary piece that shows when the croc is around and/or ready to strike. The theme is still very good, and is in reality done as a sincere form of flattery, and Ortolani’s overall score is very effective in supplying atmosphere and tension. Special Effects man Giannetto De Rossi is very inventive and creative, and comes up with a fairly realistic looking crocodile for the film. While the obviousness of the croc being animatronic is visible via the eyes not moving at all, De Rossi’s magic touch made the crocodile one of the better practical effect animatronic animals in an age when Italy had a lot of low budget fare coming out in terms of genre cinema.

Killer Crocodile | Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Cool Ass Cinema: Killer Crocodile (1989) review

Richard Anthony Crenna, son of character actor Richard Crenna, got one of his rare opportunities at a starring role in the part of ecologist team head Kevin. Adopting the stage name Anthony Crenna to distinguish himself from his famous father, Crenna plays Kevin as the typical activist in that he has high moral ideals, very little time to see that both sides have a point, and is take charge. While he’s very right in that the pollution of rivers by less than honest business type people must be put to an end, he learns the hard way that not all victims of such atrocities are innocent and worthy of protection. It’s not very long before he must decide where and when to use his ideals, and when it is time to fight for the good of the people. Van Johnson, an iconic leading man of the 1940’s and 50’s in Hollywood, plays a small, but still important role of the authoritative head of the village. Known only as The Judge, Johnson’s character is the quintessential corrupt and crooked politician who has sold his soul and integrity for money. His conscious does get the better of him when he learns the dumping of the waste has caused a crocodile to become massive and size and begins to wonder what else has affected the area. Whether he can be redeemed is left uncertain.

Killer Crocodile (1989)

Ennio Girolami, credited under the Anglo pseudonym Thomas Moore, an actor noted for both his work and being the brother of famed director Enzo G. Castellari, plays Joe, the local croc expert. Joe is a little like the Quint character from Jaws in that battling crocs is his passion, almost at times bordering on an obsession, and has the scars to prove he’s tangoed with the apex predators and lived. Unlike Quint, he’s sane and more humane in his actions, only killing the beasts when absolutely necessary, and never in any excess that would be considered dangerous to nature and the ecosystem. He respects the law of the jungle and does his best to keep everything in balance.

(Author’s note: I actually preferred Girolami’s character over the group of ecologists as he made far more sense than they did, and came off right away as far more likable.)

Killer Crocodile Blu-ray Review with HD Screenshots

The film’s location scenes were done entirely in the region of Santo Domingo in the Caribbean islands, and show off both the beauty of the area and the local flavor that’s rarely shown in other films. The majority of the extras were played by citizens of the area, so the viewer knows they’re exactly in the Caribbean and the authenticity of the setting is preserved.


A times cheesy given some of the acting, the film is genuinely entertaining and offers quite a bit of unique thrills. While the toxic waste dumping part of the story takes secondary precedent once the croc comes into play, it does serve as the catalyst as to how the beast came into being.

(Believe it or not, I do recommend give this croc flick a try as despite its low budget, has really good production qualities, didn’t take any short cuts to make things safe, and has a good set of character performers, including Hollywood icon Van Johnson. Even De Rossi’s croc is really well done in spite of the eyes being plastic and never moving. The film has two Blu Ray releases, one from the US company Severin and the other from the UK’s 88 Films. The 88 Films release wins out here as it has much better visuals and audio, and offers both the original Italian language as well as the English dub. The special features are virtually the same, save for Severin getting to interview star Richard Anthony Crenna, but what really clenches the deal is the price. 88 Films has both Killer Crocodile films on Blu Ray in a nice set for 25 GBP while Severin only has the rights to the first film with the sequel as a limited offer for $30 plus depending on where you purchase it from. This isn’t to say Severin doesn’t do a good job with their releases, but 88 just had a little more to offer. It’s all a question of which you the viewer prefer.)

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Killer Crocodile / Killer Crocodile 2 Collection – The Italian Collection 50 / 51

Killer Crocodile [Blu-ray]

Killer Crocodile [2-Disc Blu-ray Feat. Exclusive Slipcover]

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Shakespearean & Grecian Tragedy: Italian Style

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

Keoma (1976) - IMDb

Keoma (1976) ****1/2 R

Franco Nero: Keoma Shannon

William Berger: William Shannon

Woody Strode: George, Keoma’s Ally

Olga Kariatos: Liza Farrow

Orso Maria Guerini: Butch Shannon

Joshua Sinclair: Sam Shannon (as John Loffredo)

Donal O’Brien: Caldwell, Raider Leader (as Donald O’Brien)

Antonio Marsina: Lenny Shannon

Gabriella Giacobbe: The Old Witch

Wolfgango Soldati: Caldwell Raider Member

Written by: George Eastman (as Luigi Montefiore), Mino Roli, Nico Ducci, & Enzo G. Castellari, with dialogue by Joshua Sinclair

Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari

Synopsis: Keoma Shannon, a man with White and Native American blood, returns from the Civil War to find the town he grew up in ravaged by a plague. A Confederate Renegade and his band have taken over the town under the pretense of keeping the epidemic under control, all the while stealing and selling much needed commodities as the sick die. With the help of his father and a faithful retired ranch hand, Keoma decides to help the town that shunned him against both the Renegades, and his evil stepbrothers, who’ve sided with the Renegades.


By 1975, the Italian Western genre was a shell of its former self and was completely overwhelmed with ultra-low budget fares that at times could be entertaining and comedies that were at times an insult to the genre. Genre star Franco Nero and Enzo G. Castellari, one of the key directors of the genre, decided it was time to bring the genre back to its roots with the hopes that it could be revived and kept going. Italian Western supporting player George Eastman at this period was beginning a second career as a screenwriter under his Italian birth name, and he wrote a story centering on a man considered an outcast by his adoptive brothers and the community they live in, and upon returning from an unnamed war, must save the town from his brothers. Castellari was intrigued by Eastman’s initial treatment and bought the rights from Eastman and began the screenplay. What came from Castellari and his co-writers was a story of a half Indian-half Anglo-Saxon man (these types of characters were usually portrayed as half Indian-half Spanish), facing prejudice from all sides, his only allies being his father, a dying pregnant woman, a ranch hand, and a dutiful doctor, and must face down evil one last time.

Keoma (1976) Review |BasementRejects

Castellari, Eastman, and the other screenwriters drew inspiration from playwrights of old like William Shakespeare, Sophocles, Euripides, etc, for the film, Keoma’s relationship with his brothers is very reminiscent of the relationship between Polynices and Eteocles in Oedipus at Colonus, the three daughters in King Lear, and any of the relationships among the gods and mortals in the varied stories in Greek Mythology. Sibling rivalry and racism is the main point of the film as Keoma was the favored son of his father, and the constant enemy of his step brothers as they feel his mother being Native American stains the family name. It’s only when the father confesses that Keoma is in fact blood related to one of the others, and thus keeps them from killing Keoma as that would leave the mystery sibling guilty of legitimate fratricide. Hatred of Native Americans and those of Mixed Ethnic roots were still shunned regularly in the Old West and rarely was anyone willing to speak up for those who were different.

Franco Nero as Keoma in Keoma (1976) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Franco Nero, in his third to last Western, gives a heartfelt and memorable performance as the title character of Keoma Shannon. Keoma is probably Nero’s most complex role ever, both in genre cinema and art house cinema, a man filled with conflicting emotions and uncertain of where life will lead him. A man born to two different worlds, that of European Caucasians and the Native American tribes, and belonging to neither in that he accepts both the cultures he has roots in, Keoma is given no other choice but to wander the land trying to do what he believes is right and stand up for those who can’t help themselves. Much of his idealism was lost while fighting for the Union during the Civil War, even going so far as to ask his father if certain aspects of the conflict were really worth all the death and chaos. Keoma doesn’t necessarily try to be heroic, as he knows no one will ever give him the credit for helping, but his sense of honor and integrity won’t allow him to stand by while suffering and violence is happening. That he must battle both his racist half brothers who loathe him more than anything, and the Confederate Raiders they’ve sided with because they felt the town never took them seriously. Keoma will soon have to face a journey of both spiritual and emotional proportions if he intends to go on living and learns to live with the imperfections of those around him.

William Berger and Woody Strode make up two of the only people that have accepted Keoma for who he is and love him dearly.

William Berger as William Shannon in Keoma (1976) | Once Upon a Time in a  Western

Berger, an Austrian actor who acted all over the world, plays William Shannon, the father of Keoma and his half brothers Butch, Sam, and Lenny. The senior Shannon is a war hero and successful rancher who faces Shakespearian difficulties when he has an impassioned affair with a Native American woman that leads to the birth of Keoma. His other sons, firmly believing in their Caucasian roots from his first marriage constantly torment Keoma because of his mixed heritage, and the Shannon Patriarch only prevents all out bloodshed when he tells his other sons one them is also the product of his relationship with Keoma’s mother, but his refusal to tell which brother is blood related to Keoma is what in facts stops the more lethal bullying. (This aspect was more prominent in George Eastman’s original treatment, but only hinted at in the final script.) While he loved all his sons, William knew Butch, Sam, and Lenny were far more spoiled and acted out aggressively, leading to their eventual turning as outlaws, and leaves him right in the middle of the feud Keoma has landed himself in with his brothers and the evil Renegade leader destroying the town.

Woody Strode as George in Keoma (1976) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Woody Strode, the football player turned actor, and the first African American to really feature prominently in the films of the 1960’s thanks in part to his friendship with John Ford, plays George, a former worker on the Shannon ranch turned drunken vagabond. It’s never really made clear if George was a slave that William Shannon later freed and kept him on as a paid employee, or if he was a free black man with whom Shannon hired in regular fashion to work on his ranch, but it is clear he was treated very well by his employer, and acted as Keoma’s tutor and protector, teaching him the art of music, the skill of the bow, and many other necessities of living deep in the country. How and why George became a drunkard is never fully explained, but it’s strongly hinted he suffered quite a bit of bad luck over the years and this led to much misfortune that broke his spirits for a time. When Keoma returns and decides to get rid of the Raiders and his brothers, he also inspires George to clean himself up and help him out, reliving some of his glory days and earning back his self-respect.

Joshua Sinclair as Sam Shannon in Keoma (1976) | Once Upon a Time in a  Western

US expate actor and writer Joshua Sinclair who plays Sam Shannon in the film, and would later rise to fame with his finely detailed biodrama trilogy novels of the story of Shaka Zulu and the Zulu people, did uncredited work on the film’s dialog. Since the film was a mix of traditional genre storytelling, Art-House style imagery and photography, and poetic dialog from writers of ages past, Castellari felt, after sampling some of Sinclair’s writings, would be perfect to hone the casts lines and mannerisms and give it the feel of a Shakesperian or Grecian Tragedy, which both Castellari and star Franco Nero felt was greatly achieved by Sinclair’s help.

Keoma (1976) Review |BasementRejects

Religious Symbolism also plays a huge role in the film. Keoma sometimes comes off as a Christ-like figure in his dignity, honor, and commitment to peace, but his experiences in the Civil War and the various discrimination he suffered throughout the years have him fairly weary of other people, thus giving this reference a bit of complexity. Liza, the sole main female character of the film also has her place in this use of Symbolism. The baby she’s about to give birth to acts as the representation of a new generation of people to come in the wake of the loss of many due to the war and the various sicknesses that came after. The characters of Keoma, his father, his brothers, George, and even the Raiders represent the dying era of racism, bigotry, and old-world values that were slowly becoming irrelevant and out of touch. The child represents a chance to start afresh and learn from the mistakes of the previous generations so such evils may never grow into what they were in the past.

Keoma (Blu-ray) : DVD Talk Review of the Blu-ray

Keoma was seen from the get-go to be a comeback film for the Italian Western genre, to show it could return to the prosperous period it had enjoyed in the 60’s, and was a genre that wouldn’t die out. In spite of a very compelling story, creative cinematography, subtle mixtures of symbolism and relevant materials of the day and so on, the film’s chaotic switching from Art House style to genre style so frequently that both audiences and critics were uncertain of how to classify it.

(I do highly recommend this late era Italian Western as its one of the few outside Sergio Leone’s style of film-making that can pull you in emotionally as well as be entertaining. That you can feel for the characters on so many levels even with the chaotic crisscross of genres and cinematic style is a feat in-of-itself as at times as a viewer its hard to pinpoint how to view the film. The music by the De Angelis brothers, while good on many levels, suffers a little from an unusual style of singing that, while viewed by many of the genre as a weak point of the film, actually helps guide the viewer through the story, acting as an unusual folk ballad. Arrow Video once again outdoes itself with its usual immaculate audio and visual restorations of the film. The film keeps its 70’s vibe will looking very pristine at the same time, an d both the English and Italian audio ring loud and clear. A slew of extras including interviews with Nero, Castellari, George Eastman, and others are a real treat to have and offer really nice insight into the making of a late era classic.)

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Keoma (Arrow US) (Blu-Ray)

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

A New Django, A New Vendetta

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

W Django! (1971)

W Django! (Viva! Django/A Man Called Django) (1971) PG-13 ****1/2

Anthony Steffen: Django

Stelio Candelli: Jeff

Glauco Onorato: Carranza

Donato Castellaneta: Paco

Chris Avram: Capitan Gomez (as Cris Avram)

Giovanni Cianfriglia: Jeff Gang Member

Riccardo Pizzuti: Thompson

Simonetta Vitelli: Inez (as Simone Blondell)

Esmerelda Barros: Lola

Benito Steffanelli: Ibanez

Remo Capitani: Sam

Written by: Nino Stresa

Directed by: Edoardo Mulargia (as Edward G. Muller)

Synopsis: After four bandits rape and murder his wife, gunslinger Django goes on a quest to find them and take his revenge. After freeing a Mexican horse thief from a lynch mob, Django learns three of the men are now: a respected businessman, a captain in the Mexican Federales, and the leader of a gang of smugglers. The horse thief keeps quiet about the fourth man, raising questions as to if he knows more than he’s willing to say.

W Django! AKA A Man Called Django! 1971 | Download movie

By 1971, the Italian Western was beginning its slow decline into a comedic shadow of its former self. There were some films however, such as Prega il Morto e Ammazza il Vivo (Shoot the Living and Pray for the Dead), Condenados a Vivir (Cutthroats 9), Su la Mani, Cadavere! Sei in Arresto (Hands Up Dead Man! You’re Under Arrest), Lo Chiamavano King (His Name Was King), and W Django, that were still quite good and held firm to the traditions and themes that made the genre great. W Django is probably the best of the bunch in that it took the formulaic story of murder and revenge and did an imaginative take on it. This go around has the famous gunslinger Django (many fans still debate if this is an official sequel to the Franco Nero original or not) on the pursuit of four criminals who broke into his home and killed his wife, but not before savagely raping her in the process. Django’s only clue is that one of the four men is currently leading a band of smugglers selling arms to both revolutionaries and the Mexican Federales. With the aid of a Mexican thief whom he saved from a lynching Django goes from place to place looking for the men who ruined his life. That the main character has only vague ideas of what the majority of the men he’s after look like, save for one, and must rely on a man who claims to have knowledge of where he can find his quarry make trust a very difficult thing as Django must constantly wonder what’s around the corner.

A Man Called Django (1971) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Anthony Steffen, of the many icons of the Italian West, plays the title role of Django. Normally known for being stiff and wooden in his acting, Steffen actually delivers a very effective performance of a man whose life has lost all meaning after a horrible tragedy. The loss of the woman he loved has left Django a shell and void of the lust of life, but before resigning from the human race, must avenge his wife so she can have peace. Steffen’s stone face is perfect for the loner who has little to say and has only one single goal in mind, but still manages to convey some empathy for the character in that the loss of his wife was very hard for him. While his single thought is revenge, that one of the killers/rapists has a dominant hold over a town for his own nefarious purposes gives Django a chance to do one last big thing right, even if it’s really only an afterthought to his original intention.

A Man Called Django (1971) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Glauco Onorato, an Italian character actor known equally for his dub work, particularly of fellow Italian Bud Spencer, offers a fine performance as the bandit Carranza. Resembling Eli Wallach from his roles as Tuco and Calvera, Carranza comes off initially as a low-level criminal who simply had the misfortune of being caught in the act of horse thieving. When it looked like he was gonna be lynched for the act, his life is surprisingly saved by the mysterious Django. Seemingly looking to repay Django’s aid, Carranza mentions he believes he knows where to find the men Django is looking for, and offers to accompany him in case his quarry has men around to protect his savior so he can have his revenge properly. Carranza, though, seems a little too willing to offer a hand, and soon the question becomes of what is he not telling Django about the case at hand. Whether he truly can be trusted or whether he knows more than meets the eye, or even protecting someone will only come to light when the time is right.

Stello Candelli as Jeff, giving orderrs to his men in “A Man Called Django” (1972)

Chris Avram as Maj. Gomez, one of the men Django's seeks in “A Man Called Django” (1972)

Riccardo Pizzuti as Thompson, one of the men Django seeks in “A Man Called Django” (1972)

Italian actors Stelio Candelli and Riccardo Pizzuti, and Romanian actor Chris Avram portray three of 4 men Django is looking to get for murdering his wife. Avram and Pizzuti’s characters have become respectable since committing the heinous act, Avram’s guy rising through the ranks of the Federales into a high level of command, though he still commits crooked acts here and there and Pizzuti’s guy is now a successful, albeit still devious, businessman. When they each meet with Django one stays the coward he is while the other accepts his fate, but won’t go down without a fight. Stelio Candelli’s character is still very much a crook and has gone a step further as an unscrupulous mercenary selling weapons to both the Fascist Federales and the rebellious revolutionaries looking to take over Mexico. Unlike his compatriots, he fails to recognize Django who has been looking for him to kill him at first, but even then arrogantly doesn’t see him as a threat. When they finally settle face to face, it becomes intense.

W! Django (1971) *Greek Subtitles* part 1/2 - video dailymotion

While very standard in its storytelling, W Django is still a very action-packed film that offers up amazing choreography in said scenes, a interesting array of characters, and a nice twist that, while not entirely unexpected, is still surprising in how it’s revealed.

(I highly recommend this early Late Era Italian Western as, while it came in that time period when the genre was beginning to deteriorate and falling into the hole of Comedy parodying and comic tales, it manages to retain the Golden Era style and themes that made it popular from the get go. The story in kinda generic in a way, but at the same time is told in a very interesting fashion that avoids the film being labeled as repetitive and copycatting, giving it its own voice. Anthony Steffen gets one of his rare opportunities  in this film to show he wasn’t a completely wooden actor and could deliver a fine performance when given enough room and chance. There are two Blu Ray releases of this film, one from Japan’s Orustak Pictures and the other from France’s Artus Films. I have the French Blu Ray Digibook and the restoration is very crisp and clean, looking much  like it did back in the day. The audio, which is only offered in Italian and French, are still very good to listen to and don’t appear to have much age or wear damage present in them. the extras aren’t English friendly either, but are still very interesting to have as they offer a new and different take on the genre. I haven’t seen the Japanese Blu Ray myself, but I do know it’s Italian language only with Japanese subtitles. The Japanese do fairly well in their Blu Ray and DVD restorations from what I’ve heard and seen as far as stills go and offer up the best product they can, so it’s a safe bet to go for, but the price differential can be tricky.)

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

Family Drama and Revenge in the Old West

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Spanish language version of the film)

Hands of a Gunfighter (1965) - IMDb

Ocaso de un Pistolero (Mani di Pistolero/Hands of a Gunfighter/Hands of a Gunman) (1965) PG-13 ***

Craig Hill: Dan Murphy (as Graig Hill)

Gloria Milland: Miriam Murphy

Carlos Romero Marchent: Pat Davis

Jose Guardiola: John Castle

Piero Lulli: Davey Castle

Raf Baldassarre: Deputy Sheriff Mack (as Ralph Baldwin)

Jesus Puente: Sheriff Robert Rogers

Lorenzo Robledo: Slim Castle

Hugo Blanco: Charlie Castle

Francisco Sanz: Alex Dixon (as Paco Sanz)

Conchita Nunez: Margaret Dixon Davis

Francisco Huetos: Andy Rogers Murphy

Written by: Joaquin Romero Marchent (as Joaquin Romero Hernandez)

Directed by: Rafael Romero Marchent

Synopsis: Dan Murphy, a gunman attempting to go straight, sees his world shattered when his infant son is accidentally killed by his rival Sheriff Rogers. Acting on an eye for eye, Murphy takes Rogers infant son away from him, raising the boy as his own. When Murphy must come to the aid of his friend Pat Davis, a young and recently married farmer, against the vicious Castle brothers, Rogers’ blindly loyal deputy threatens to arrest Murphy for his past sins unless Rogers’ son is returned to him. With two threats facing him, Dan is forced to take a long hard look at himself.

Ocaso de un pistolero/Hands of a Gunfighter/Mani di pistolero ...

Rafael Romero Marchent and Carlos Romero Marchent, the sons of filmmaker Joaquin Romero Marchent, make their debuts as director and actor respectively in Pistolero, written by their father. Continuing the family tradition of telling stories about gunmen having to face down their pasts as they try to do right by their loved ones, the senior Marchent crafted a story about a gunman who’s so hated by the town sheriff that the man blindly fires his gun at him, killing the gunman’s infant son. When the gunman pays back the sheriff by kidnapping his infant son so he and wife can raise the child they were robbed of, questions of right and wrong come into play and if some actions are truly justifiable. A nice side plot also includes the reforming gunman trying to help out his neighbors, a recently married couple, when one of a quartet of vicious brothers takes an interest in the young bride, recreating a classic element of both American and Italian Westerns.

Hands of a Gunfighter / Ocaso de un pistolero (1965) / AvaxHome

Craig Hill (credited as Graig Hill), a Mid-West born American actor who suddenly found himself without work after the hit series he starred in, Whirlybirds, ended, went over to Europe to star in his first Western. Dan Murphy is a bit of a mix, having elements of both American West tragic heroes and Euro West tragic heroes, as he wants to do right by his family and friends, but at the same time feels as if Destiny is against him and must do what he can to attain even the tiniest bit of happiness. Even at the beginning of the film he was getting his life on track, only to have it go on a dark path when his enemy the sheriff, who wouldn’t leave him alone, accidentally shoots his baby son, leading to revelations that show certain characters for who they truly are. When he’s hit with double trouble in the form of his good friend needing help in protecting himself and his wife from the less than honorable Castle brothers and the even less honorable sheriff threatening to ruin his life if he doesn’t get the son he never even tried to track down before back, the only grip Dan had left on his hopes and sanity begins to crumble, and even begins to believe his wife is turning against him.

Hands of a Gunfighter (1965) — The Movie Database (TMDb)

Hands of a Gunfighter (1965) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Ocaso de un pistolero | SincroGuia

A slew of characters including Piero Lulli, Jesus Puente, Raf Baldassarre, Gloria Milland, Lorenzo Robledo, Francisco Sanz, and Hugo Blanco all make up the various characters in Dan’s life, whether they be allies, family, or enemies. The notable exceptions in the cast are Lulli as Davey Castle and Puente as Sheriff Robert Rogers. Lulli plays Castle as a slimy menacing type who instigates some of the feud between his family and Pat Davis and Dan Murphy by forcing Pat’s father to take up a gun when he and his brothers look to intimate Pat and his family after Pat is forced to kill the one brother when he attempted to sexually attack his wife. Puente’s Sheriff Rogers appears to be little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing as while he seems to have some remorse in killing Dan’s infant son, he never the less threatens to make Dan and his wife’s lives miserable even though he was the cause of all the misfortune. That he waits years to finally ask for his son back puts his fatherly love and devotion into serious question as he apparently knew for years where Murphy and his wife had taken his son and never bothered previously to try and get him back or at least plea to be given a chance at making things right. That he comes off right away as someone who acts in haste seems to make that point true.

Hands of a Gunfighter (1965) Download YIFY Movie Torrent - YTS

While more American in its story, theme, and characterizations rather than Italian or Spanish, Pistolero is still an intriguing early stage Euro Western that offers up some interest. The closest the film gets to the burgeoning Italian style that was finding its roots in the wake of Sergio Leone’s success is when Dan begins going after the Castle family when they go too far in terrorizing Pat Davis and his wife. His systematic eliminating of the brothers so they can’t get the drop on him is very much in the Leone style and is the most exciting part of the entire film, while the rest seems to have more of the feel of a Frontier Drama rather than a traditional Western.

(This Western is middle of the road in terms of interest, but is still worth checking out as it’s a unique example of the genre in it’s early stages, showing how they used American Westerns as the basis, and worked their own style and magic in. Craig Hill in his debut Italian Western role is very effective and compelling, showing he was a talent that Hollywood didn’t give much of a chance to grow and flourish. He certainly had leading man looks, but even if he’d only done character parts in both Hollywood and Europe he’d still have been a success. The Blu Ray from Koch Media’s Italian Western line is exquisite looking, offering a clear and crisp transfer of the visuals, and clear audio via Spanish, German, and English soundtracks. Some of the English track is missing and English subtitles are available for the spots were the audio reverts to the original Spanish language. The extras are an interview, theatrical trailers and a gallery.)

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The Euro Western Take on The Dirty Dozen

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(This review is of the Italian language version)

Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968) - IMDb

Ammazzali Tutti e Torna Solo (Kill Them All and Come Back Alone/Go Kill Everybody and Come Back Alone) (1968) R ****1/2

Chuck Connors: Clyde McKay

Frank Wolff: Captain Lynch

Franco Citti: Hoagy, Gunman

Leo Anchoriz: Deker, Explosives Expert

Giovanni Cianfriglia: Blade, Knife Thrower (as Ken Wood)

Alberto Dell’Acqua: The Kid, Acrobat Fighter and Gunman

Hercules Cortes: Bogard, Strongman

Antonio Molino Rojo: A Sergeant

John Bartha: The Union Prison Camp Captain

Written by: Tito Capri, Francesco Scardamaglia, Joaquin Romero Hernandez, & Enzo G. Castellari

Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari

Synopsis: A Confederate General asks a known criminal and his motley crew of mercenaries to steal a cache of Union Army gold to help buy arms for the Confederacy. The raid is successful, but soon allegiances are torn apart by greed, duplicity, and the revelation someone involved in the plot may not be who he says he is.

Ammazzali tutti e torna solo

1968, hailed as the boom year for the Italian Westerns, had its mixture of ground-breaking films, and simply well told “B” films that audiences just sat back and enjoyed. Enzo G. Castellari already had a hit with Quella Sporca Storia nel West (Johnny Hamlet/The Dirtiest Story in the West), a Western adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but he wanted to also have a representation of the fun, tongue-in-cheek, action-oriented style films he enjoyed making. With this in mind, Ammazzali Tutti e Torna Solo was born. The recent success of Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen was inspiration enough for Castellari and his regular collaborator Tito Capri to take the idea of a rag-tag group of trained men and transplant them from WWII Europe to 1880’s Southern Borders. The one difference Castellari and his co-writers inserted in was that while the Dozen in the States had a code of honor they stuck by regardless, the gritty group in this one are shown to have no honor at all, even to each other. What Castellari finished with was a highly action-packed thrill ride that still had its flaws in order to allow for certain special effects to be used, but still came off as totally believable fun. Watch Kill Them All And Come Back Alone | Prime Video

Chuck Connors, an American TV star with two hit shows, The Rifleman and Branded, already under his belt, decided to break away from the images formed from those shows by taking the role of the untrustworthy criminal mercenary Clyde McKay. Taking a complete 360 degree turn from the stoic, kindly, and fatherly Lucas McCain, and to a lesser extent the stoic, kind, and honorable Jason McCord, Connors plays McKay as a man with a very adjustable conscience, little morals and scruples, letting little, if anything, stand in his way.  McKay makes no secret he’s a bad dude, and would probably sell out his cohorts to save himself, when someone hires for a job, he honors the contract and expects his clients to honor their side too. While having worked with the men he recruited before, McKay still doesn’t fully trust them, but knows for any amount of money, they’ll sell their skills to anyone. When he tries to double-cross them for his own greed, McKay is forced to rely on his soon to be former allies when the Union Army catches up with them. Upon finding someone has sold them all out, McKay is forced to rely on his wit and tricks to stay alive.

Un film-cult stasera sulla tv in chiaro: AMMAZZALI TUTTI E TORNA ...

Frank Wolff, one of the most respected and utilized American actors working in Europe, plays one of his most devious roles in the part of Captain Lynch. While trusted by his commanding officer and some of the other members of the Confederate Army, Lynch is really more than what he appears to be, and his motives aren’t as loyal to the cause as it looks. Clyde McKay takes an initial dislike to Lynch, and this gut feeling is what shows Lynch as a man not to be trusted. He’s eventually revealed as a triple agent, a thief posing as a Union Officer posing as a Confederate officer, so he can steal the gold for himself, and blame it on McKay and company. As shifty as he is crafty, Lynch works to turn the group against each other, playing up each man’s individual greed as his main weapon. But with McKay already not liking him, and having a feeling he isn’t a man to take at face value or his word, Lynch must constantly be on his guard.

Franco Citti as Hoagy, the expert gunman, in Kill Them All and ...

Giovanni Cianfriglia (Ken Wood) as Blade, the knife expert, in ...

Leo Anchoriz as Decker, the dynamite expert in Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968)

Alberto dell'Acqua as The Kid in Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968)

The always reliable character actors Franco Citti, Giovanni Cianfriglia (credited as Ken Wood), Alberto Dell’Acqua (sometimes credited as Robert Widmark), and Leo Anchoriz, all make up a fine bunch of swine in their respective roles of Hoagy, Blade, the Kid, and Deker. They all have their own specialties in the art of thievery and fighting, hence why McKay picked them for assignment of stealing the gold. Hoagy and Deker look to be the least trustworthy of the group as Hoagy is merely a gun for hire while Deker is an expert with explosives who has the ability to double-cross the gang whenever he likes. Blade and the Kid are equally not to be trusted, but they at least have a type of honor code ethics that turn up when it looks like McKay intends to screw over them and the Confederacy by stealing the gold for himself. But since all of them have a common hatred of authority, they agree that the War Between the States is, for people like them, a matter of looting and self-gain.

Hercules Cortes as Bogard, the strongman in Kill Them All and Come ...

For fans of 50’s to 70’s style professional wrestling, Alfonso Carlos Chicharro, better known professionally as Hercules Cortes, plays the role of Bogard, the last of the mercenaries. Cortes’ main bit in the film is to act as the brute strongman who takes out 10 to 20 men at one time for the group to even the odds, but he also shows pretty solid acting skills in some scenes. Sadly, this would be his only major role in a film as he died from injuries suffered in an auto accident while touring the US and Canada as one half of the American Wrestling Association Tag Team Champions.

Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968) / AvaxHome

Even with Castellari going a little over the top in the action and special effects scenes, the film is still very entertaining and allows the viewers to sit back and have the time of their lives. The story might be a little thin at times, but is certainly solid enough to be followed continuously and smoothly. The cast, especially Chuck Connors, Frank Wolff, and the actors playing the other mercenaries, all give good performances, and Connors was soon to begin his alternate career as villainous characters in both film and television until his passing in 1992 from cancer. In spite of overshooting for solid action driven plot and setting, Castellari shows the Italian Western could be equally fun and gritty at the same time.

(This a great example of letting your mind relax and enjoy the ride and while there is a nice twist, it’s one viewers can safely guess correctly on without having to think too much on it. Filmmaker Castellari is a director who can do both serious plot and character driven films and ones that are purely for fun and amusement, and mixes both to a certain extent here. Chuck Connors, in his only Italian Western ever, proved he could not only play against type, but do it in a fashion where the viewer both likes him and disagrees with him. It’s quite the shame he wasn’t able to do more of them, though his entrance in the genre came at the tail end of it’s Golden Age. There are two Blu Ray releases of this Western Cult Classic, one from Germany’s Koch Media and the other from Kino in the US. The German Blu Ray has a slightly better transfer in audio & visuals and offers some extras including an interview with co-star Giovanni Cianfriglia [aka Ken Wood]. Kino’s Blu Ray does offer a subtitle translation of the original Italian audio and an audio commentary from filmmaker and Italian Western fan Alex Cox, though many stalwart genre aficionados rightly question how much of a fan Cox really is. Both are English friendly, and while Kino does have a subtitle option for those who prefer the original release Italian language, the Koch Blu Ray wins out because of the effort put into making it quality.)

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Murder Mystery in The Old West

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Italian language version of the film)

The Grand Duel (1972) - IMDb

Il Grande Duello (The Grand Duel/The Big Showdown) (1972) R ****

Lee Van Cleef: Sheriff Clayton

Alberto Dentice: Philip Vermeer (as Peter O’Brien)

Horst Frank: David Saxon/The Patriarch Saxon

Jess Hahn: Big Horse, Stagecoach Driver

Marc Mazza: Sheriff Eli Saxon

Klaus Grunberg: Adam Saxon

Antonio Casale: Holk, Saxon henchman (as Antony Vernon)

Dominique Darel: Elizabeth

Elvira Cortese: Madame Oro

Written by: Ernesto Gastaldi

Directed by: Giancarlo Santi

Synopsis: Philip Vermeer, a hippie union leader, is wrongfully accused of the murder of the tyrannical Patriarch Saxon. When the man’s three equally tyrannical sons vow revenge, it’s up to Sheriff Clayton to save Vermeer, the town, and expose the real killer of the elder Saxon.

The Grand Duel / Il grande duello (1972) [Re-Up] / AvaxHome

The last of the Golden Age Italian Westerns before they slipped into the realm of parody, comedy, and downright poor low budget fares, Il Grande Duello offers a mix of what the genre was famous for: ambiguous characters who weren’t entirely good or bad, villains who were depraved and sadistic in their evil, beautiful landscapes, and unique scores. Screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi and Composer Luis Enrique Bacalov are just two of the classic stalwart names who made the genre the cult favorites they are today are on hand to make this film in the tradition of what was being made in the 1960’s that had audiences flocking to the theaters. This time around a Sheriff who was forced out of his position for standing up to corruption is the only one who can save a hotheaded Hippie-esque young man from being hanged by a trio of brothers who intend on maintaining their father’s tyrannical grip on a burgeoning community, who are sure someone there killed the despot old man. Now while many Italian Westerns of the late 60’s and early 70’s offered interesting mystery subplots, Duello is a bit different in that all the characters associated with the dead man clearly have reason to be the killer, so singling out one individual who could’ve done it is almost impossible. Mixing both the serious tone of a Leone or Corbucci story, and the unique camera and editing of Parolini and Castellari, Duello offers a fond farewell to a prosperous period of filmmaking that, had it not been for comedy filmmakers and lack of continuing originality, could’ve gone on forever.

The Grand Duel (1972)

Lee Van Cleef, the American character who was the most famous and most prolific in the Italian Western, gives what would be his final great performance in the genre before returning full time to Hollywood in the role of Sheriff Clayton. Mixing the hard bitten & edged characters of his earlier roles, and the mysteriousness of the Sabata character, Sheriff Clayton is man determined to prove he was unjustly dismissed from his position, stop the Saxon brothers from taking over the whole of the United States, and keep Philip Vermeer from getting himself killed. Having firsthand knowledge of, but keeping it to himself until the right moment, who really killed the Saxon Patriarch, Clayton is the only one who can set things right and take out a real threat to, not just a small town, but the US as a whole, all while keeping everyone on their guard to his motives. While he doesn’t care much for Vermeer’s personality and how he handles things, Clayton realizes the young man genuinely cares about protecting the people of the little hamlet and their rights, and must do what he can to keep the young man from doing something stupid that could very well cost him his life.

(Author’s note: This would be voice actor Emilio Cigoli’s final time dubbing Lee Van Cleef, and his final time voice dubbing in general, the remainder of his career spent being onscreen in TV and movies. Cigoli was Van Cleef’s primary dubber, except in La Resa di Conti (The Big Gundown), and both Sabata films, and one of a small number of voice actors whose own vocals greatly resembled the actor they were translating.)

The Grand Duel (1972) - HD English Trailer [1080p] // Il Grande duello -  YouTube

Alberto Dentice, in his only film role, does very well as Philip Vermeer. Another Old West take on the Counter-Culture movement, this time around portrayed as a guy with a chip on his shoulder wanting to handle his own problems even though he knows doing so would cost him his life. Since he dared speak against the Saxon family, and was purportedly the last one seen facing the old man before he was killed, Vermeer is unfortunately the most likely suspect. That the town believes in him as he helped them find some courage in standing up for their rights shows he’s not an entirely boastful braggart, and has some qualities that make him important for those who need help.  For his only film appearance and in a main role, Dentice is very convincing as Vermeer, mixing together brashness, sincerity, and honor into one personality.

The Grand Duel (1972) Giancarlo Santi, Lee Van Cleef, Alberto Dentice, Jess  Hahn, Western | RareFilm

The Grand Duel / Il grande duello (1972) [Re-Up] / AvaxHome

The Grand Duel (1972) Review |BasementRejects

German actors Horst Frank and Klaus Grunberg, and French actor Marc Mazza, are all very convincing slime balls in the respective roles of David, Adam, and Eli, the Saxon brothers. Frank pulls double duty in this, also portraying the Patriarch Saxon in the black and white flashbacks. Frank, who was the earliest known Italian Western regular baddie, gives his trademark sophisticated menacing smarts as David. Power hungry and maniacal, David wants to take the Saxons all the way to the White House, and suggests reestablishing the States as a Monarchy again where he’ll rule unopposed. He, like Clayton, knows who really killed his father the Patriarch, but unlike Clayton, doesn’t want the truth revealed, very likely out of fear it will destroy the Saxons rise in monetary and political power.

The Grand Duel & Keoma: Spaghetti Western Double Feature Blu-ray Review

Mazza, most famous as the big brute who gets slapped around by Terence Hill in Mio Nome il Nessuno (My Name is Nobody), is a mix of forcefulness and maniac paranoia as Eli. The town’s corrupt Sheriff who openly looks the other way to all the crimes committed, Eli enjoys the power his family has over the hamlet. Having been next to his father when he was shot, Eli feels the heaviest burden to locate and unmask his killer, believing he failed to protect the old man. His paranoia in finding the truth leads to brief clashes with his brothers, who feel he brings too much attention to them. Grunberg plays Adam as an effeminate sadist, who is the most brutal of the three brothers. Always decked out in white, he takes major offense if his suits are ruined for any reason. His penchant for excessive violence makes him the family hit man that David employs quite often on their enemies.

The Grand Duel (Il Grande duello) (1972) Download YIFY movie torrent - YTS

One of the few non-Garko based mystery Westerns of the era, Duello makes fine use of the flashback sequence and uses smoke screen style special effects to hide the identity of the real killer until the final 20 minutes of the film. All the actors do effective jobs in their respective, Van Cleef, Dentice, and Frank especially, keeping viewers constantly guessing as to who is truly the murderer of the evil Saxon Patriarch.

(I do highly recommend checking this one out, as not only is it one of the last hurrah’s in the great tradition of the Italian Western, but one of the few films in the genre that is under-seen and needs far more exposure than what its gotten. I made a slight error in my saying this was one of Lee Van Cleef’s last Italian films, he did go back to Italy here and there, but Duello was certainly the last time he was kind of primarily doing films over in Europe. The film never ended up in Public Domain hell like some films did, but for one reason or another never got an adequate DVD or Blu Ray release until Arrow Video got the rights to release the film not too long ago. Arrow’s transfer and release of the film is much like their other releases, always excellent in the audio and visual department with only small hints of age and damage remaining, and offering a slew of extras and a booklet [which might be out of print as booklets are now first run deals only].

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A Cop’s Revenge and Honor

by Tony Nash

(a Part of Poliziotto e Criminale: The Poliziotteschi of the 1970’s)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Minor Spoilers)

(Review is of the Italian language version of the film)


Paura in Citta (Fear in the City/Street War/Hot Stuff) (1976) ***1/2 R

Maurizio Merli: Commissario Mario Murri

James Mason: Il Questore di Polizia

Raymond Pellegrin: Alberto Lettieri

Fausto Tozzi: Maresciallo Epsosito

Silvia Dionisio: Laura Masoni

Gianni Elsner: Agente Diotallevi

Cyril Cusack: Giacomo Masoni

Franco Ressel: Procuratore Lo Cascio

Written by: Giuseppe Rosati & Giuseppe Pulieri

Directed by: Giuseppe Rosati

Synopsis: Police Inspector Murri beaks all the rules with his special squad to take down a gang of murderous thieves. This particular gang is in greater danger from Murri himself as they have a connection to a tragedy from Murri’s past. OM Leoncino Mk.IV in "Paura in città, 1976"

The same year he did Roma Amano Armata (Rome Armed to the Teeth), Euro Crime star Maurizio Merli appeared in another film of the genre that, while not as unique as Armata, still provided a good dose of entertainment, story, intrigue, and action. Paura in Citta is far more plot and character driven than the usual tropes of the genre that focus on action subtle social commentary of the period, but still maintains the violent action the genre offered. The focus on storytelling and the characters involved is certainly unexpected and different, but at the same time offers a unique interpretation of the genre that shows what directions the genre could go had filmmakers been given a little more time to prepare the material. This go around sees a cop plagued by a recurring memory of a tragedy he couldn’t prevent, and the lengths and risks he’s willing to take to avenge not only the victims, but himself and others affected by the criminals. When the targets of his obsession escape from jail to kidnap a banker in charge of a huge monetary transaction by train, the cop sets in motion a wave of both professional and personal vendettas to see justice is complete.

Paura in città (1976) | il mio vizio e' una stanza chiusa

Maurizio Merli gives another of his rare fine performances in the role of Commissario Mario Murri. Merli rarely got to go into depth with a character in the genre, and goes into a fair bit of complexity with the character. Murri is a good cop consistently haunted by an experience from his past that eventually started affecting his work. Even before the tragedy took place, Murri was known for his unconventional and sometimes ruthless methods of apprehending criminals, which brought him into conflict with his superiors and government heads. While still in an administrative position, his superior the Prefect informs him he has a chance to redeem himself when the gang that affected his life escapes from jail to plan a big train robbery. Merli gets to explore something of a romance in this film as well as he falls in love with the daughter of the kidnapped banker he both has to protect and get information from regarding all of the business her father personally handled. This romance helps to bring him out of the shell of moroseness, but can’t quell the personal revenge he sorely needs to come full circle and be whole again.

Paura in città (1976) | il mio vizio e' una stanza chiusa

Paura in città (1976) смотреть онлайн

Best Actor: Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1973: Cyril Cusack in ...

British actors James Mason and Cyril Cusack, French actor Raymond Pellegrin, and Italian regulars Fausto Tozzi, Silvia Dionisio, and Franco Ressel help make up a fine cast of supporting players that are either Murri’s friends, his enemies, or those in a weary alliance with him. Mason plays Murri’s superior who has consistent stomach problems from worrying about the state of affairs of the country, and of how Murri’s actions will affect the political and public climate. Clearly an honest man, he’s also unafraid to put his foot down when necessary, and also gives Murri credit as a good cop. Raymond Pellegrin, who acted primarily in Italian crime films in the 70’s, plays the leader of the gang Murri swears revenge against. Ruthless and without any kind of morality, the gang leader does anything and everything to ensure the success of his schemes. An action of his in the past obviously went too far, and now without fully realizing it, has made his own life null and void. His straightforward kidnapping of a banker gives Murri the ammunition he needs to go after the man and his thugs. Cyril Cusack plays the timid banker whose information and clout are needed by the gang to pull off a seemingly full proof heist of an armored train robbery. Whether he participates willingly or not is up to interpretation.

Paura in città - Wikipedia

TRAILER - Paura in città - YouTube

Cool Ass Cinema: 02/07/09

Fausto Tozzi plays one of the members of Murri’s special squad. Like Murri, his character has no qualms about how to get the job done in bringing down criminals and making the city safe. While Murri was put in administration for his actions, Tozzi;s character was placed in the automotive division of the department, which apparently is very boring. When he too is offered the chance to redeem himself as well, he takes the opportunity with vigor and enthusiasm. Silvia Dionisio, an underrated actress and model, plays the daughter of the kidnapped banker. Going through the motions of a lackluster and mundane life without love and affection, the young woman’s life becomes interesting and anew when she meets inspector Murri. The relationship is at first cop and essential witness, but soon turns to friendship and then to love as they give each other new reason to live and second chances at full lives. Franco Ressel has a short, but still interesting role as a prosecutor, and the head of the major crimes unit who must work with Murri in apprehending the criminal gang. Very by the book, he’s none too appreciative of Murri’s gung-ho antics and finds himself almost constantly at odds with him.

Cool Ass Cinema: Fear In the City (1976) review

Very different in that the focus of the film is on the story and the moral ambiguity/redemption of the Maurizio Merli character, Paura in Citta is still a finely done Action Crime Drama. While not offering the high octane action normally associated to the genre, there’s still plenty of suspense and an excellent pursuit journey to prevent a major heist from going down. All the characters are still interesting, and are surprisingly relatable and sympathetic. Not one of the best of the genre, but a very good middle of the road style.

(I do recommend giving this film a look at as it offers something different within the genre, and, like with Banda del Gobbo, still maintains some of the staples of the genre that everyone would still enjoy. Maurizio Merli offers up an usually sympathetic portrayal of a policeman battling personal demons that can only leave him alone when he faces the men that ruined his life. This proves to be quite different from the usual gung-ho fascist like cops who’ve lost faith in the human race that he would normally play. The Blu Ray from Germany’s Koch Media Euro Crime boxset offers up a nice transfer in visual and audio quality. There’s some slight popping and hissing with the audio, but nothing to dampen the enjoyment of the film. The Blu Ray is English friendly, but only in the dubbed audio track, and no subtitles, but the Italian audio isn’t too hard to understand. There’s also a DVD from Italy, but that isn’t English friendly I’m afraid.)

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Normally I would offer a buying option here, but with the COVID Pandemic going on, I’m not sure how many German retailers are actually selling this in their online shops and and the same can be said with the all the Amazons, so I do recommend doing a little searching



Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

A Double Dose of Milian: Criminal Twins Bonding

by Tony Nash

(a Part of Poliziotto e Criminale: The Poliziotteschi of the 1970’s)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Spoiler free)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

La banda del gobbo (1978) - IMDb

La Banda del Gobbo (Gang of the Hunchback/Brothers Till We Die) (1978) R ****

Tomas Milian: Vincenzo “Il Gobbo” Marazzi/Sergio “Er Monezza” Marazzi

Pino Colizzi: Il Commissario Sarli

Mario Piave: Il Commissario Valenzi

Isa Danielli: Maria, i Donna nel Gobbo

Luciano Catenacci: Perrone

Guido Leontini: Mario “Er Sogliola” Di Gennaro

Nello Pazzafini: Carmine Ciacci

Pierangelo Civera: Romeo Esposito

Salvatore Borghese: Milo “Albanese” Dragovic (as Sal Borghese)

Solvi Stubing: Marika Engver

Written & Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: After some time abroad, notorious criminal Il Gobbo returns to Rome for one last heist before calling it quits. Along the way he reconnects with his identical twin brother Er Monezza, a crook turned auto mechanic. When Gobbo is betrayed by his crew, the brothers form an unusual alliance to get revenge and not cause much havoc. 1973 Porsche 911 in "La banda del gobbo, 1978"

By the very late 1970’s the Euro Crime genre wave was pretty much at an end, but Umberto Lenzi, a high stalwart of the genre, decided if the genre was coming to end, he would have it go out with his own brand of a grand finale. Liking both his creation of Il Gobbo from his original treatment of Roma Amano Armata (Rome Armed to the Teeth) and Tomas Milian’s grand performance in the film, he decided to bring the character back for another go around. Since the first film gave the indication the character was dead, Lenzi gave this Il Gobbo a different last name and an entirely new personality. Instead of the homicidal psychopath of the original, this Il Gobo was a tough guy who played upon the mindset of his targets without ever having to physically attack them, making him something of an Anti-Hero and even somewhat likable. Making him the look alike twin brother to another popular character, Er Monezza (an Italian slang term for trash), Lenzi created a duo who were radically different from each other, but at the same time seemed to know each other in a way only twins can.

La banda del gobbo (1978)

La banda del gobbo (1978)

Tomas Milian, in one of his last Euro Crime films before committing full time to the adventures of special squad cop Nico Giraldi, gives his usual spot on style of talent as both Il Gobbo and Er Monezza. That Milian was able to balance two completely separate personas at almost the same time is another compliment to Milian’s dedication to and love of the craft of acting. Il Gobbo is a small time crook with a very big reputation thanks in part to his wisecracking antics and to the genetic abnormality he’s had since birth that easily separates him from the crowd. Unlike most criminals, Gobbo tries to avoid harming innocent civilians as much as he can, only going after cops and the upper crust of society. That he’s sympathetic to the working class, mostly from watching his younger twin brother work the daily grind in an auto lot, makes Il Gobbo unique in that he’s not completely without some essence of scruples. He’s also shown as very honor bound when it comes to the code of criminality, especially when it comes to handshake agreements. When he’s betrayed by three of his old friends during a fool proof armored car, Il Gobbo launches a special type of revenge that only affects the targets.

12092016: Attori che interpretano gemelli — In Danilo's mind ...

As Er Monezza, Milian delivers the polar opposite of Il Gobbo. Monezza in his own way is a simple man, only needing the basic necessities of life. A penny-ante hoodlum who finally decided to go straight, Monezza still engages in some of the methods he gleamed while still on the hustle, some of which do help him out when dealing with his obnoxious boss and the police detective dogging both him and his brother. Monezza is shown as very dedicated and very loving to his more criminal minded brother, always in his own subtle way trying to steer him in the right path, though his efforts are constantly thwarted. Despite his seemingly failed efforts, his brother does respect and admire him (and even loves him a little), primarily because he’s doing everything on his own with no help. While trying to help his brother leads to trouble for Monezza, he has little regrets as he knows his brother’s heart, even if it can be a little black, and knows his brother would hate himself should anything bad happen to him.

La banda del gobbo – Pianeta Cinema

Milian is supported in his role by a slew of venerable Italian character actors including Pino Colizzi, Nello Pazzafini, Guido Leontini, Luciano Catenacci, Salvatore Borghese, Isa Danielli, and Solvi Stubing, the majority of them playing characters that are either trying to help Il Gobbo in his schemes, or are trying to thwart and/or betray him. Leontini, Catenacci, and Borghese give pretty spot on performances and the three men who initially team with Gobbo, only to betray him and become the objects of his revenge.

Stasera in tv su Iris, dalla seconda serata in poi, omaggio a ...

While primarily an entertainment film, Lenzi does interject some his political beliefs into the character of Il Gobbo. Gobbo has a disdain for those in high society who look down the lower classes, and himself in particular because of his abnormality, and wishes to give such people what he feels are their just comeuppance. Even with his anger at being the object of certain people’s scorn at his physical appearance. Gobbo has no intention of killing them, only to humiliate them in a fairly ingenious fashion. While Lenzi hadn’t had the intention of making Gobbo a sympathetic revolutionary whose life was based on his social circumstances, something about that scene resonated with the youth of the era, and made his own impact.

La banda del gobbo – Pianeta Cinema

More of a revenge story than the typical outing in the Euro-Crime world, the film still offers the action and characters fans had come to love and expect from the genre that keep things solid and interesting. While not as intense or high octane as its predecessors, Banda del Gobbo is still an entertaining slice of Euro-Crime goodness that fans new and old should check out.

(This is another film I highly recommend checking out as it’s just pure entertainment and exciting. Tomas Milian offers one of his finest performances as the Marazzi brothers, keeping both radically different personalities finely balanced at all times. Stalwart fans might be disappointed the film lacks the violence the genre was normally known for, but that doesn’t make the film any less exciting as the cat and mouse game is still played among the cop and gangster characters. The film has two Blu Ray releases, a mediabook from X-Rated Films in Germany [which I think may now be out of print] and one last year from 88 Films in the UK. The UK Blu Ray is readily available and offers a solid visual transfer and audio transfer with translated English subtitles for the Italian audio. The UK release is all region so fans from anywhere in the world can import the Blu Ray with no worries at all if it will play.)

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Brothers Till We Die – The Italian Collection 57


Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

Milian vs. Merli: Two Egos at War

by Tony Nash

(a Part of Poliziotto e Criminale: The Poliziotteschi of the 1970’s)

(all opions are of the author alone)

(Spoiler free)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

The Tough Ones (1976)

Roma Amano Armata (Rome Armed to the Teeth/The Tough Ones) (1976) R *****

Maurizio Merli: Commissario Leonardo Tanzi

Tomas Milian: Vincenzo “Il Gobbo” Moretto

Arthur Kennedy: Vice Questore Ruini

Giampiero Albertini: Commissario Francesco Caputo

Ivan Rassimov: Antonio “Tony” Parenzo

Maria Rosaria Omaggio: Anna, Juvenile Psychologist

Luciano Catenacci: Ferdinando Gerace

Stefano Patrizi: Stefano, College Punk

Biagio Pelligra: Savelli

Aldo Barberito: Maresciallo Pogliana

Corrado Solari: Albino, Gobbo Henchman

Written by: Dardano Sacchetti, from a story by Umberto Lenzi

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: Police detective Tanzi, desperate to take down a notorious criminal named Ferrender, goes to extreme lengths to catch the man red-handed. When a seemingly harmless petty criminal called the Hunchback deliberately harms himself to discredit Lenzi as a loose cannon, Tanzi’s partner and their superior force him to take a desk job, making Tanzi realize the harmless man isn’t so harmless. In between these cases, Tanzi also deals with College delinquents, bank robberies, and a sinister drug dealer. Piaggio Vespa in "Roma a mano armata, 1976"

In 1976 the Euro Crime genre was at its height, and noted genre producer Luciano Martino was looking to cash in once again. His idea was to put together two of the genre’s biggest stars in the same film, the duo was Tomas Milian and overnight star Maurizio Merli. The script that came about had a main plot mixed with several little side ones that allowed for diversity with the many ideas the writers wanted to use. The little side plots work quite nice as viewers are shown the varied types of criminals Italy had, from the petty criminals, to the spoiled privledged youths with no direction to the high-class criminals who hide behind respectability. While director Umberto Lenzi’s original treatment and Sachetti’s finalized script offer a lot of action and entertainment, Lenzi wanted to convey a little more depth than most of the predecessor and contemporary films of the genre in its social context. The cop protagonist is very cynical and believes the laws hinder the police and give the criminals too many loopholes to avoid arrest and imprisonment, almost wanting to return to a time when the police ruled absolutely with no boundaries. Mixing the standard police cracking down on various baddies throughout a film with the constantly at odds with the counter culture fascist cop made for something exciting and different in the genre.

Una scena tratta da Roma a Mano Armata ‧ Spoiler Alert

What should have been the cleverest team up of noted stars since Franco Nero and Tomas Milian in Vamos a Matar, Companeros! (Companeros) six years previously, evolved into one of the most antagonistic and volatile working relationships in Italian genre cinema. Both Tomas Milian and Maurizio Merli took an instant dislike to each other, and what merely began as neutrality turned into all out war. Both men had huge egos, Milian demanding artistic freedom and integrity, and Merli a full of himself prima donna and arrogant hothead due to his overnight success a year or two earlier. Merli had initiated the conflict when he tried upstaging Milian, who at this period had earned all of Rome’s admiration, and Milian, finally having enough of Merli’s pompous manner, physically attacked Merli by really kicking him during a scene. Lenzi was forced to step in to break the pair up before fists started being thrown, having a solid working relationship with both men, and Merli practically shouting he wouldn’t perform in the same space with Milian any longer, nor did he ever want to work him ever again.

The Tough Ones' on Blu-ray Finds the Beauty in Brutality

Maurizio Merli, while only have ever really acted in Euro Crime films, gives a surprisingly deep and semi-nuanced performance as Commissario Tanzi. Constantly bordering on clear sense of justice and complete fascism, Tanzi is sick of crime and even sicker of the laws that seem to help the criminals and hinder the police. Feeling all criminals should be prosecuted no matter what the crime is or if the offenders have records or not leads Tanzi into continual strife with not only his partner and their superior, but also his civic duty minded girlfriend who feels some criminals are redeemable if give the chance. When the apprehension of a dangerous criminal becomes an obsession and the shooting of a repeat offender who tried to run him over, it looks as if Tanzi is now bordering on being unredeemable himself. Merli plays Tanzi as a clearly hard-bitten cop whose been at the job too long and has most likely lost his faith in the human race thanks to all the depravity, violence and lack of morality he’s constantly forced to come into contact with. That he wants Italy to return to Mussolini’s idea of justice in giving the law absolute authority with no restrictions and to possible suspend the offenders civilian rights has him nearly bordering on being a criminal himself in wanting to denounce the idea of a democratic justice system. Whether he can be redeemed in some way is up to himself.

The Tough Ones (Blu-ray) : DVD Talk Review of the Blu-ray

Tomas Milian, one of Italy’s biggest genre stars, gives one of his top 5 performances as Vincenzo Moretto, alias Il Gobbo. Il Gobbo (Italian slang for The Hunchback) is a wily criminal with a psychotic side who does whatever he can to evade the law and succeed in the underworld. Playing Tanzi at his own game after he humiliates him and tries to entrap him, Il Gobbo deliberately slashes his own wrists in order to get out of police custody and accusing Tanzi of brute force. Both wisecracking and dangerous, Il Gobbo shows himself and crafty when he’s revealed as a big-time player in cahoots with the big boss Ferrender whose gone into hiding, making a lot of decisions in regards to crimes and money. Going between innocent and a little pathetic to downright arrogant and dangerous, Gobbo proves he’s a force not to be underestimated and to be fearful of. Milian’s usual style of mixing wacky and occasionally vulgar humor with unflinching moments of violence and mayhem is on display here and is as effective as always.


Cool Ass Cinema: 07/21/19

American actor Arthur Kennedy and Italian character player Giampiero Albertini offer two interesting and distinctly different interpretations of leading law enforcement officials. Kennedy plays Ruini, one of the chiefs of police who’s very by the book and allows little in-between room for handling cases. He’s made it clear several times over he doesn’t approve of Tanzi’s methods of handling criminals and his hatred of the recent laws passed, but does admit that Tanzi is a good cop who only wants to keep the people safe. Kennedy plays Ruini as a man willing to take any criticism and harshness about the system, but will fight back when his integrity and the need to make the system is questioned. Albertini plays Caputo, another leading investigator and Tanzi’s partner in the main division. Like Ruini, Caputo believes the judicial system needs to be given time to become effective, and like Tanzi believes leniency needs to be issued when dealing with career criminals and repeat offenders who know how to work the system. His own sense of justice comes under personal crisis when he realizes Tanzi’s been right about certain things, and must face those demons head on.

Roma a mano armata" di Umberto Lenzi: quel crime all'italiana ...

With Euro Crime films sometimes acting as entertainment commentary on Italy’s state of crime in the 70’s, Armata is no different in that approach. Mainly via Tanzi, Lenzi and his co-writer express their worry that the recently passed judiciary laws won’t be effective in curtailing criminal activity and that some veteran cops will want to resort to fascist style tactics in order to bring down the more dangerous offenders, which will only lead to more complications. 1971 Laverda 750 SF in "Roma a mano armata, 1976"

A prime example of what Euro-Crime is all about, Roma Amano Armata is the near perfect blend of action, suspense, thrills, acting, and story. Underseen for some time in the States, the last 20 years have brought this gem of a film back to life, and reliving the days when the Italian youth of the 70’s went flocking to see the film.

(A absolute must watch for any fan of Euro Crime, whether they’re vets looking to add on to their catalog of titles, or newcomers looking for a good place to start viewing and collecting. Any Tomas Milian performance is worth seeing, and this film is a particularly good example, and well worth anyone wanting to know more about acting to take lessons from. The backstory of Milian and Merli’s heated working relationship alone is enough to make people interested in seeing how the mostly hate fueled atmosphere helped the film and its overall effect. The Blu Ray from Grindhouse Releasing [founded by the sadly late Sage Stallone, Sly’s son] is beautiful looking in both audio and visual quality, the crispness in image and soundtrack nearly brand brand new. A plethora of extras including interviews with Umberto Lenzi and Tomas Milian [both recorded before the two men passed away] as well as a retrospective style documentary on Lenzi, his career, and influence/impact on cinema as a whole are as much fun to enjoy as the film itself.)

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics